Sunday, 30 October 2011

The Square Head.

Fifteen years ago we had a series of storms during January and February that certainly gave the local papers plenty to report, like the loss of the Tongue Fort, remains of the decaying Margate Jetty coming ashore and remains of a wooden shipwreck on the tide line at Foreness Point. This was no typical winter as the wind direction was almost permanently North East over a four week period battering into the stone pier (harbour arm) day after day.
Just by watching as each wave hits the wall of the stone pier it is easy to work out the wave action as it ran the full length of the wall until it reached the square head and producing this huge wash as it levels out into the shelter of the harbour. Continuous wave action like this picks up shingle and other debris and over a period of time a shingle bank is formed in the entrance of the harbour. At the same time the foundations of the stone pier are also washed out leaving ideal conditions for a dig.
One particular morning I picked a suitable low water and set about to dig a trench about a meter out from the base of the wall of the square head and worked in, with the intention to see what I could find. In theory it all sounds easy , but I was digging in a gale and the chill factor was around minus sixteen. The shingle was impacted where the fishing boats had rested on it and as I dug I was releasing this terrible smell as I dug deeper into this black mass. As I dug I soon found some copper coins, the unfortunate thing was that they were completely worn and they were more like copper discs. As I dug even deeper I started to find lumps of lead which instead of being grey were black due to the effects of ground they were laying in. Eventually I reached stonework of the remains of the square head from the 1953 storm which was from the original 1815 structure. As I dug closer to the wall I came across a piece of timber riddled with worm, the unusual thing was that the timber went under the stone pier and I had came across a piece of the timber piling of which the stone pier was originally built on. It was this timber piling that collapsed in the 1953 storm causing the lighthouse and square head to collapse.
Once I reached these timbers I stopped digging and decided to walk around the rest of the square head where more stone work had been exposed by the tide to see what else I could find. It was amongst this stone work I found this crude block of lead about the size of a small car battery which was very heavy which I believe is had something to do with the original stonework.
I didn't find any artefact's but then I didn't expect to. However, on this occasion I learnt more about the construction of square head and the storm of 1953. Plus I made a bit on the lump of lead at the local scrapyard.

I have attached an article by Mick Twyman on the subject of the 1953 storm and the collapse of the lighthouse.

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